The growing tendency of players to ignore their country and play in cash-rich leagues such as IPL is "worrying", according to the legendary Sir Vivian Richards, who says an ultimatum should be given to cricketers with such misplaced priorities.
Richards said IPL administrators should ensure that players give priority to their countries and not just chase the fast bucks that come their way in Twenty20 Leagues.
"It is a trend which is going to happen more and more. I think it should be looked into by the IPL administrators. It should be made clear that representing the country is also very important. If required, an ultimatum should be given," Richards told PTI in an interview here.
Asked specifically whether the huge money involved in IPL was affecting international cricket, Richards said, "it is. It is a worrying factor. Recently we have had people like Chris Gayle not signing the central contract."
"But it is one's decision whether to play for the country. But if the IPL was not there, they would be willing to sign the contract. That would have been their only alternative. There are a few individuals who are unfaithful and ignore the country because of the fast food of cricket," he said.
Richards, one of the most destructive batsman of his era, said it was the responsibility of the IPL bosses to address the issue.
"We have the NBA players, we have American football, they have their own system. They graduate to different levels before turning professionals. If the IPL Governing body agrees, there should be an ultimatum given to these individuals that they should be representing their country.
After making a mark at that level, they should be allowed to participate in the IPL. That is what I believe will create the balance, which I think cricket will need to continue for a long time," he pointed out.
Richards spoke at length on the decline of West Indies cricket and attributed the steep fall to a variety of reasons. He said West Indies Cricket Board officials have never taken criticism in the right spirit.
Elaborating the reasons, Richards said, "it has certainly gone wrong. Sometimes the players could not give 100 per cent, sometimes there are administrative brawls. Our country has not quite lived upto the standard. Sometimes you see players being disciplined, players being dropped.
You rarely see an individual in the Board being penalised for taking wrong decisions and things like that in administration. I just believe it's a combination of things.
There have been differences between the Board and the players' association. I guess if the Board was doing its work, we would not have such confrontations. There were times when issues off the field dominated West Indies cricket. These are some of the problems we are currently going through," the West Indian batting great pointed out.
Asked whether the Board officials ever asked him for advise, he said, "they are not going to ask. They won't ask me or people like Michael Holding. Because whenever you are critical, you find folks sometimes do not quite take that criticism or constructive criticism in the best way.
Some of these individuals are there just because of the attraction and legacy West Indies cricket has created in the past, that's why some of them are in administrative positions.
But the only problem I have is that they will forget the folks who have made West Indies cricket attractive enough for them to be in that particular position. I will continue speaking my mind and exactly where I see them going wrong. I will speak about it," he added.
On whether former West Indies cricketers have ever thought of getting into the Board to revive the game, he quipped, "it will take a coup. It will certainly take a coup. A coup is sometimes much needed but it's not constitutional.
I have always been very optimistic about life and the future and everything like that. I don't think these guys can continue to make bad decisions and get away with it," he added.
Give Ultimatum to Players Ignoring Country: Richards
M R Mishra/New Delhi
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